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Shootout punctuates mad comeback
LIGHTNING 4, CAPITALS 3 (SO): Bungling leads to a 3-goal deficit, a dizzying rally and the first shootout win.
By TOM JONES
Published November 24, 2005
Tampa Bay's Vinny Prospal, right, celebrates with teammates after scoring against Washington in a shootout.
Lightning center Tim Taylor loses his balance, glove and stick while being fouled by Capitals defender Nolan Yonkman in the second period.
Lightning right wing Vinny Prospal fights for puck control against Washington right wing Matt Bradley.
WASHINGTON - On a road trip that featured victories over the red-hot Hurricanes and Flyers, who would've thought that a tough-as-nails overtime victory against the lowly Capitals would go down as not only the highlight of the trip, but the best victory of the season?
Hey, why not jump in with both feet? This might have been the most dramatic regular-season win in franchise history.
On paper, the Lightning's 4-3 shootout victory at the MCI Center against a team hanging out with the bottom feeders of the Eastern Conference is no reason to go crazy.
But consider this: the Lightning climbed out of a 3-0 second-period hole and, stop the presses, won a shootout for the first time in franchise history.
"I told (associate coach Craig Ramsey) sooner or later, one of these (shootouts) has got to come through for us," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "I felt fortunate just getting the point for going to overtime, but getting the two points is a nice way to end the trip."
After losing the previous three shootouts, the Lightning got goals from Brad Richards and Vinny Prospal and four stops from goalie John Grahame in a five-round shootout. The victory gives the Lightning (12-9-3) points in six consecutive games and four victories in a row. It also puts the Lightning a mere two points behind the Hurricanes for the Southeast Division lead.
"It's a big win," Richards said. "We felt we deserved to get two points with the way we played. So it's nice to get it because it solidifies the road trip."
The Lightning likely did deserve to win. It dominated play and outshot the Caps 42-20. But 39 seconds nearly ruined the night and put a serious damper on what had been a nice little road trip.
In perhaps the worst 39 seconds in franchise history, the Lightning stumbled and bumbled and gave up two goals to fall behind 3-0.
The comedy of errors started when miscommunication led to a Caps breakaway for Matt Pettinger. Lightning defenseman Pavel Kubina had no choice but haul Pettinger down and Pettinger was awarded a penalty shot. Pettinger scored at 26 seconds of the period.
Only 13 seconds later, the Caps had another goal when a tricky bounce off the backboards fooled Grahame. Brian Sutherby poked in the rebound and, at that point, the Lightning could've packed it in as just one of those nights.
"There was no quit in us, we never panicked," Tortorella said. "I still thought we could win. Hey, give these guys credit. We've had a tough travel schedule and we keep playing hard and we found a way. ... We're playing some of our best hockey of the year.'
Defenseman Dan Boyle scored twice and Rob DiMaio scored his first of the season as the Lightning fought back. Boyle's second goal at 5:45 of the third tied the game.
Then came the history-making shootout.
"It's huge," Grahame said. "To fight all the way back after being down 3-0, to lose in a shootout would've given us a losing feeling. Instead, we come out feeling good about ourselves. It's a huge win. It just shows our character."